What these nine large prints by Stephen Shore have in common is the uniform size of 64”x 48” as well as his trademark banal subject matter translated into sharp detail shots ranging from sidewalk debris to peaceful river water. If you are making photographs nowadays, when everyone is at license to take a picture of street trash and post it on Instagram in the name of some vague poetic impulse, then your work is challenged to do something more than just add to the existing noise.
As a body of work, I don’t believe the Stephen Shore exhibition at 303 Gallery accomplishes this; several of the photographs deviate in both composition and subject matter, sacrificing a sense of cohesiveness between the imagery. Where a majority of these photos include some manmade element like paper bags or cigarette butts, several pieces convey purely natural elements. Additionally, while most of the photos are a high resolution image at a downward angle, a particular image of tree branches seems to follow some other logic and is shot at a traditional standing angle. The thrill of this new work, however, is found in singular pieces where the closeup of the image defamiliarizes into texture and color and then reveals itself as receding yellow traffic paint and dirt on asphalt. Shore, through several individual photographs rather than the entire body of work, proves photography’s enduring power as a tool to help us contemporary viewers forget what we are looking at so that it becomes visible to us again.